CSU won gold for being green.
The University was awarded a score of 83.48 out of 100 points — a “gold” status for its sustainability efforts, according to the Global Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System.
CSU’s rated sustainability efforts have improved from a score of 77.54 in 2011, when the University’s first STARS report was submitted.
The STARS report, a program of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, is based primarily on criteria in three categories: education and research; operations; and planning, administration and engagement.
According to the organization’s website, 19 percent of registered universities have received a “gold” rating. No registered university holds a “platinum” rating, which requires a minimum of 85 points.
Although each STARS-evaluated university receives a number of points out of 100, the organization’s Senior Programs Coordinator Jillian Buckholz said that universities are encouraged not to compare themselves to each other.
“STARS is a rating system, not a ranking system,” Buckholz said. “We’re not really in the place to say one institution is better than another, and because STARS is voluntary and a self-assessment, it’s really up to institutions whether they want to participate, so all the schools that aren’t participating are really made to look bad, if one school is saying they’re better than other schools when not every school in higher education is participating.”
According to Carol Dollard, energy engineer in facilities and co-chair of the CSU campus sustainability committee, CSU’s many sustainability projects are examined from a variety of angles to ensure their benefits. Such projects include a solar plant in the foothills campus, solar panels on various buildings and a housing and dining composter.
“To be truly sustainable … you talk about the three legs of the sustainability triangle,” Dollard said. “It’s actually called people, profit and the planet. It has to make sense environmentally, it has to make sense economically and it has to make sense for the people that are involved. We look at it from all those aspects.”
Tonie Miyamoto, co-chair of the campus sustainability committee and housing and dining services director of communications and sustainability, said that all parts of CSU are engaged in making the University more sustainable.
“What CSU does to be the number one institution for sustainability, is we have sustainability integrated in every college, all eight of our colleges, and every division,” Miyamoto said. “It’s something that the entire campus works toward, and it’s a combination of classes, research, engagement, student leadership, buildings and broad, campus-wide conservation efforts.”
CSU is attempting to become more diverse in how it maintains sustainability, according to Dollard. This includes making an effort to utilize different types of sustainable energy.
“Think about it as diversifying your portfolio,” Dollard said. “We don’t want to have all of our eggs in one basket, so (we’re) always looking at different things. We’ve looked at wind turbines on a site in Eastern Colorado, we have a research center out 100 miles east of here and we’ve looked at utility-scale wind out there … we’re always looking at new things out in the future.”
Collegian Reporter Ellie Mulder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org